France has awarded ArianeGroup a contract to develop a hypersonic glider technology demonstrator that is due to make its first flight by the end of 2021, Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly announced Jan. 21.
"We have decided to award a contract for a hypersonic glider demonstrator," able to reach a speed of over Mach 5 (over 6,000 km/h),” Parly said during her New Year’s address to the armed forces.
France is already conducting studies on hypersonic propulsion as part of the modernization of its nuclear deterrent, but such a glider, initially propelled by a rocket or a missile, is attractive for military missions because its unpredictable trajectory allows it to escape interception.
The French hypersonic demonstrator is designated V-Max, for Véhicule Manoeuvrant Expérimental. It will be about 2 meters long, a “hyperfast system capable of hyper-manoeuvrability,” a source told the Paris daily L’Opinion